Headbands created to collect information about student attending behavior are the latest trend. Adults monitor and gather information from students’ brains to see if they stay focused on schoolwork.
Here’s the Vulcan Post that discusses Neeuro, from just one company jumping on the headband bandwagon.
This falls into the social-emotional “good behavior” and “self-regulation” learning craze, and school districts will assuredly climb onboard like they do with everything else involving technology.
Like the Santa Anna School District which already promotes tech to monitor whether students are fidgeting while test-taking. One predicts they will be candidates for student headband monitoring.
Watch for headbands used to evaluate teachers. If the data show too many students daydreaming it could end careers in a jiffy.
Many headbands come from the BrainCo. “Your Brain Controls Everything” (unless someone’s controlling your brain) out of the Harvard Innovation Lab. The company promises better student outcomes at school and at home.
But what does that mean? Are better outcomes better test scores and kids who are nervous wrecks? Are better outcomes students who complacently sit in front of screens giving out information about themselves?
EdSurge recently described this company displaying the following picture. Maybe I pay too close attention, but why are all the students dressed in white? Are they in a cult?
How personal is it when teachers must rely on headbands to tell them how engaged their students are in class?
Where’s the research that shows that this will be a good thing for children?
China is onboard for the monitoring headbands. They love collecting data on students. Ten thousand students there participated in a trial to see how the headbands worked.
But China is not a free society. Americans value their freedom. Don’t they?
Kai-Fu Lee, recently interviewed on 60 Minutes, is a Chinese venture capitalist, technology executive, writer, and artificial intelligence expert. He created the world’s first speaker-independent, continuous speech recognition system.
Lee wrote a book called AO Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, New World Order. He likes AI, and spoke about the headbands being used in China.
I appreciated Lee’s interview. Not only was he an interesting speaker who made tech information clear and easy to understand, but he showed enthusiasm about the education he got in America.
Lee attended a public school! The principal taught him how to speak English. Despite his love for AI, Lee recognized how his public school personalized his education before computers.
The head gear shines a color coded concentration level which will be seen by the teacher and other students. The sensors can track every student move.
Monitoring a student’s thoughts seems Orwellian and could easily turn into a harsh disciplinary tool.
It might reflect a teacher’s crummy lesson, or the fact that students are sick of test-prep. Students with attention disorders could have difficulties. Or a student who falls asleep might be unwell. Perhaps they have problems that keep them from focusing on school work.
All of this involves tracking and data collection, and that’s especially controversial.
It also could allow for large class sizes. In a class of forty, few teachers can keep track of student concentration.
But paying attention doesn’t mean you are actually learning. I concentrated in my high school chemistry class, but I still had difficulty balancing equations.
And there’s also a glitch. A student’s headband might indicate they’re concentrating, but it might not be on the designated material. Kristen might be focused on Jonathan sitting in the desk next door.
Some students have difficulty staying on task, and a headband might provide better awareness of when that occurs and perhaps help the student and teacher. But the student could also talk with their teachers and describe why they have a problem. This would provide better insight for all involved.
Why don’t teachers simply ask students if they understand the material?
Do school districts have the funds for such experimental technology?
One thing is critical: parents must be informed if the school is going to be using this technology. They should sign a permission slip.
Steve Nelson says
I led a school for 19 years. If anyone suggested such a thing I would have thrown them out of my office. If any teacher or administrator put a “head band” on a child, I would have fired them.
My granddaughter is in elementary school and it is bad enough that I have to tolerate her “assessment” by iReady every few months. The educators who do this to children are shameful. I’m surprised Nancy didn’t take a stronger position. It’s not just dangerous because of data collection. It’s not just offensive because it’s another fad that makes obscene amounts of money for opportunists.
It’s unconscionable because it’s an invasion of a child’s person. It is a psychological strip search. It is abusive and invasive.
And, most of all, it seeks to pathologize normal child development. Kids shouldn’t “focus!” My most powerful moments in elementary school were daydreaming, passing notes to friends, gazing out the window, imagining myself in a tree – anything but attending to the dismal activities directed by my by and large boring teachers.
I think parents and caregivers might consider withdrawing children from school if this despicable era of prodding, poking, testing and digitizing doesn’t end.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Steve. I think it goes without saying that there’s a lot of money involved.
I certainly distain headbands. I wouldn’t have spent time writing about them if I didn’t.
Do you voice your concerns at the school board meetings? You would do well I think. That’s where these decisions are made.
Kathy Edmonston says
This is absolutely ridiculous. What in the world do they plan on
doing with the information they gather on each child?! Like we don’t already have a good idea!
Testing is a tool to measure concentration in students. If a student does bad on a test then a teacher should know that student is not concentrating. Teachers must be really dumb to need a head band to let them know who is not concentrating
Sue Bursztynski says
What lunatics do you guys have running your school system? I’ve never heard of it. It sounds like science fiction, only next it will be chips in the brain…
Nancy Bailey says
It is not just America’s school system. Wherever you live watch for it.
Roy Turrentine says
I think these headbands define what it is to be selling surreal estate. Are they something out of a dystopian novel? Suggesting that they are a bit orwellian way understates the matter.
This actually brings up an important question. What role do we assume as teachers in the process of allowing human beings the dignity of their private thoughts played off against the duty we have to introduce children to the ideas society has accumulated and valued?
This question cannot be answered by a headband. Not even one that is red and paisley.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Roy. Great questions.
Forget that this is a ludicrous idea and the people who invented it know nothing about how to educate children. Practically speaking, I know having that gadget on my head would automatically cause me to be distracted. None of these types of devices have been safety tested. Placing a radiation emitting device around the burins of children is dangerous. Join the Parents Across America for Safe Technology FB page for updates on how technology affects children’s learning and health.
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks, Deb! Great suggestion!
John Mountford says
When I first read this latest post, Nancy, I was inclined to think maybe you were the victim of ‘fake news’. Knowing this could not possibly be the case, coming from such a reliable source, I followed all the links to find out more about this latest assault taking place on children in our schools. In the Epoch Times article it provided a link to this story, “In May 2018, a high school in Hangzhou City employed cameras with facial-recognition technology to track students’ attentiveness in class. These cameras would scan students’ faces every 30 seconds to analyze their facial expressions and detect their mood. Each student was then assigned a score based on how well he or she appeared to be paying attention in class.” With what in mind other than thought control??
That same article offered the following observation about the headbands, “Neuroscientists and psychologists have cast doubt on the effectiveness of the technology.” My view is that such professionals should be calling for and leading an international debate about the appropriateness of such invasive technology in education, NOT its ‘effectiveness’.
It may (very questionably) be regarded as a normal and acceptable extension of the powers of the state in such totalitarian regimes to invade the privacy of its citizens. It is NEVER acceptable that such treatment of children in particular is ever contemplated, let alone undertaken in nations that value the integrity and rights of the individual. No child should be required to even take part in exploring the possibilities of this technology and it is up to parents to act decisively to end this obscene development.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, John. Facial recognition is another up and coming trend. Parents and teachers need to pay close attention.
Roy Turrentine says
In a biography of Billy the Kid, it spoke of the reputation he had of never changing his expression. They said he could shoot someone and just smile about it. Then I looked at the only surviving photo of the man. His slightly protruding teeth obviously looked as though he was smiling when he was not necessarily showing one emotion or another.
Facial recognition, indeed! Phrenology anyone?
Seth Evans says
Skilled teachers are continually monitoring the attention of their students and making adjustments throughout a lesson by cuing students for attention, altering the content or pacing or type of activity, checking for understanding, moving about the classroom — and dozens of other ways. That’s what we do. The common denominator between this attention monitoring gizmo and many other Ed Tech products is the engineered deskilling of the teaching workforce. Ed Tech seeks to substitute machine algorithms for teacher judgement. This is extremely attractive to school districts that are being forced by austerity to increase class size. It also works for those districts that can’t attract or retain skilled teachers due to the poor pay and working conditions. With less skilled teachers, the rationale for outsourcing teacher judgement to technology is strengthened. And so forth and so on.
Clearly, teachers and parents must join together to resist this and other efforts to increase class size and substitute machines for skilled teaching. At the same time, we must continually fight against the radical right’s efforts to induce austerity in the first place.
Thank you so much for writing this article. Using headbands is a huge privacy violation, seems to constitute medical treatment, and if a school district used one with my child, I would protest and file a lawsuit if the district persisted.
Legislatures should ban these to make it clear to schools this technology will not be tolerated.
The U.S. Congress should also make HIPAA apply to school districts without question.
I agree with the posters above who are appalled by it, and frankly, I don’t trust my school district not to use this in the future and not inform parents.
I also agree with the poster who commented on i-ready above. I see it as a waste of time and money. I am not overly impressed with Amplify as a science curriculum either. I miss the days when a teacher had more say in how to teach.
Thank you again.
Have they tested them with 7th grade boys? High school seniors?
I question whether anyone has done the research telling us this head gear is doing what it says it does and whether it is ethical to try to do it in the first place. Can you imagine this headgear being used in the workplace to show that employees maintained laser-like focus? For how long? Under what conditions? I question whether we really know enough about what the brain is doing and why to claim that we can monitor the level of concentration on a particular task and use whatever specious information we collect to make decisions as to appropriate actions. Why not use old fashion human interaction to judge engagement?
These wearable technologies are being implemented to track social competencies. Related to brain-training programs being implemented to address ACE trauma. Late-stage capitalism, turning life into data for hedge fund speculation. https://wrenchinthegears.com/2019/02/05/ace-adverse-childhood-experience-scores-part-of-the-pay-for-success-plan/